Remembering the Riegelwood storms 7 years later - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Remembering the Riegelwood storms 7 years later

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Strong storms ripped apart entire communities on November 16, 2006. Strong storms ripped apart entire communities on November 16, 2006.
Chief Camlin says the mobile command center can treat up to 100 people. Chief Camlin says the mobile command center can treat up to 100 people.

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) – As thousands of families across the Midwest braced for severe weather Sunday, Fire Chief Steve Camlin sent a message to his crew with a reminder to reflect on their own natural disaster exactly seven years earlier.

Strong storms ripped through the Riegelwood community on November 16, 2006 leaving eight people dead and many more hurt. Chief Camlin, with Acme Delco Riegelwood Fire and Rescue, said that morning will remain in his mind for the rest of his life.

"It's just like it happened this morning," he said. "A lot of first responders will never lose that vision."

Training can prepare someone for the situation, but there is nothing to help process the sights and sounds of the destruction of a community, according to Camlin. He said first responders had to use whatever they could find.

"We were taking doors and using them for backboards," Camlin said. "Doing whatever we could to improvise and overcome."

Fire crews no longer have to improvise. Shortly after the storms, donations poured into the Riegelwood community. A mobile command center with the capability to page every emergency crew in Columbus County can treat up to 100 hurt people.

Camlin said the center's been used for major situations like the tornados in Bladen County several years ago, but he would prefer to never have a need for it at all.

"I hope we don't have to use it, because if we do, that's going to be a bad day for somebody," he said.

The flag outside the fire station hangs at half staff to commemorate the anniversary.

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